The City Council, in a joint meeting with the Redevelopment Agency this week, directed the City Attorney to draw up an ordinance to protect city landmarks.
The ordinance establishing a historic preservation program will include recommendations by the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee. Once it is drafted, the council and Redevelopment Agency will hold a public hearing before taking a final vote.
Under the program, a structure will be placed in one of three categories according to its historical or architectural significance. The first category, in which the structure will be "recognized," is honorary.
If a building is deemed "significant," which is the second category, or placed in the highest category as a "landmark," a six-month waiting period will be imposed before the property owner can make significant alterations in order to explore ways to preserve the structure.
After the waiting period has expired, the owner of a significant structure can proceed with the planned alteration, but the owner of a landmark structure can only proceed with alteration or demolition if economic hardship can be demonstrated.
The advisory committee has already designated 49 residential or commercial properties as significant and 31 as landmarks. The owners of these structures have been notified by the committee.
Although residential property owners whose homes are designated as significant will have the option of refusing the status, those whose buildings are deemed landmarks must participate in the program. This mandatory aspect of the program concerned Councilman James Boulgarides, who abstained from the vote and discussion because he owns a designated property and therefore spoke as a private citizen.
"I think that would be contrary to the property rights of individuals, and its something we don't need," Boulgarides said.
Under the program, the Redevelopment Agency will make funds available to owners of significant and landmark properties for restoration and to bring the building up to minimum code and maintenance standards.
Councilman Mike Balkman also abstained from the discussion and vote because he owns property within 300 feet of a designated structure.